Tapas is the name for a wide variety of appetizers in Spanish cuisine. They may be cold or warm. In the United States tapas have evolved into an entire cuisine; at Spanish restaurants, patrons may order many different small tapas, and combine them for a full meal.
The original tapas were the slices of bread which wine drinkers in Andalusian taverns used to cover their glasses between sips. This was a practical measure meant to prevent fruit flies from hovering over the sweet sherry. But soon, enterprising bartenders were putting small snacks on the bread, and the lowly tapa (from tapa derived the verb tapar, "to cover") became as important as the wine.